Week 10: Inquiry Activity – The Visual Consumer (ASOS)

For this week’s inquiry activity we were to consider ourselves as visual consumers of a website/brochure/magazine. I chose to review and the ASOS fashion website in relation to this week’s study guide.

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Logo

The study guide, supported by further research, suggests that the most effective logos are those that have a simple message and a simple design. In the case of ASOS, this is most certainly the case.

The logo has been clearly designed with simplicity in mind, using only the two contrasting colours of black and white, in what could be described as a ‘cursive’ or ‘decorative’ font. While the use of text will be discussed later in this blog post, the sheer size and boldness of the lettering in the logo make the use of this font acceptable as a logo typeface (Ames 2015; Clancy & Krieg 2009). Additionally, Janiszewski (2001) suggests that logos are most successful when they appear timeless in design. In this case, the logo is both easily recognisable and effective in its message in advertising ASOS as a place to ‘discover fashion online’.

Colour/White Space/Balance

Smith (2015) is one of the most important features in successful marketing and advertising. Colour on the ASOS website, is used in a number of ways to both aid the visual presentation of the items and available, and also to present a distinct stylistic tone throughout the website. While the use of colour is largely limited to the use of black and white (specifically in the creation of white-space) pops of colour are used throughout the website to draw the views eye to key points of interest and to create visual balance.

On this home page we can see deliberate attempts to draw the reader’s eye to the ‘mint green’ section of the top of the website (which is advertising the current sale) and also pops of blue colour to the bottom right (linking users to both the women’s and men’s clothing sections). Moreover, the predominant use of black and white colour, also allows the image of the models to ‘pop’ highlighting their clothing. Seonsu and Barnes (1989) argues that colour is one of the most critical elements of successful advertising websites, particularly in the fashion industry.

Font

The study guide suggests that fonts are crucial in not only setting the context of written work, but also in the delivery and receiving of messages (Ames 2015). In the case of the ASOS website, all three examples of font types (Serif fonts, Sans Serif fonts and cursive fonts) are used throughout the website.

For instance, the website primarily uses ‘cursive’ fonts to highlight key messages. Almost always displayed in larger type sizes, these examples conform the standards outlined through-out the study guide.

Alternatively, Sans Serif fonts are used throughout the website, primarily in the descriptions of items for purchase. Where this type face can be used for ‘headlines’, it may also be appropriately used as ‘caption’ text – as seen within the image below (Ames 2015). This again, conforms the expectations highlighted throughout the study guide.

Finally, the use of Serif fonts are used throughout the website to display important points of interest, in an easy to read font. The primary example of this may be seen on the homepage, where the site’s key navigational links are written in Times New Roman.

Photos/Graphics

As a clothing website, there are many examples of photos of items on sale. Each of these images are thoughtfully labelled, complimentary the imagery used. The only other real graphics on the website are promotional images of models wearing clothes from the website – which again, reinforces the messages and intent of ASOS.

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References

Ames, K 2015, Week 10 – Impact of Design and Structure, COMM11007: Media Writing, CQUniversity e-courses, http://moodle.cqu.edu.au

ASOS n.d., ASOS – Home Page, viewed 16 September 2015, http://www.asos.com/au/?hrd=1

Birkner, C 2015, ‘What’s your type?’ Marketing News, vol. 49, no. 7, pp. 10-11.

Clancy, K, & Krieg, P 2009, ‘Five marketing tips’, Sales & Service Excellence, vol. 9, no. 1, p. 6.

Janiszewski, C 2001, ‘Effects of brand logo complexity, repetition, and spacing on processing fluency and judgment’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 18-32.

Seonsu, L, & Barnes, J 1989, ‘Using color preferences in magazine advertising’, Journal of Advertising Research, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 25-30.

Smith, J 2015, ‘It’s a color-coded world’, Marketing Insights, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 18-19.

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Week 10: Inquiry Activity – The Visual Consumer (ASOS)

Week Nine – Inquiry Activity: Content & Writing Curation

Where consumers time is limited, it is more important than ever that writers of media content are able to extract and present the information that matters to their audience (Collis 2014).

Content curation is especially valuable in delivering meaningful messages to audiences (Coco & Torres 2013). Curation isn’t about creating new content, but rather bringing together and compiling the most relevant information for the audience in question. Meaningful curation is an essential skill of media writing, especially given the sheer amount of information and data available via the internet. Curation ensures that messages are representative of brands and tailored to the needs of the audience (Cisnero 2014).

Trip Advisor – Reviews and advice on hotels, resorts, flights, holiday rentals, travel packages, and more.

The information presented on this site is clear, direct and data driven (Trip Advisor 2015). The presentation of this information is deliberately curated this way to deliver to the audience succinct and purposeful reviews of hotels across the world.

The difference in presenting the information this way means that audiences, and readers of the website, are getting only essential information about the hotel.

Condé Nast Traveller – A lifestyle website, specifically focused on travel and destination.

The information presented on this website is descriptive and indulgent (Condé Nast Traveller 2015). In direct contrast to the Trip Advisor website, information curated on this site deliberately offers readers an immersive sense of what staying in these hotels would actually be like.

More than just pure factually driven reviews, this website brings the hotels to life through atmospheric descriptions. The appeal to readers is then a comprehensive review that goes beyond the basic details, presenting a deeper, enriched vision of what these hotels have to offer.

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Task Reflection

Information is more accessible than it has ever been before, and curation is the key in presenting meaningful, newsworthy messages (Cisnero 2014). It is fascinating to see these two websites be such polar-opposites in presentation, yet essentially provide the same thing. I shouldn’t be so surprised – as a consumer, I regularly seek out information based on my needs and what I know certain websites/media sites will give me. From a critical perspective I can’t help but appreciate the research and the writing skills it takes to bring so many elements together, specifically for a readership.

References

Cisnero, N 2014, ‘Beginners guide to content curation’, Hootsuite, viewed 4 September 2015, http://blog.hootsuite.com/beginners-guide-to-content-curation/

Coco, P & Torres, MG 2013, ‘Curation in writing: Using a “Building” and “Breaking” pedagogy to teach culture in the digital age’, Web Writing, viewed 4 September 2015, http://webwriting2013.trincoll.edu/crossing-boundaries/coco-torres-2013/

Collis, M 2014, ‘6 powerful tips to effective content curation’, The Huffington Post, viewed 4 September 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-collis/6-powerful-tips-to-effect_b_5901856.html?ir=Australia

Condé Nast Traveller 2015, ‘Gold standard hotels 2015 – Best hotels in the world’, Condé Nast Traveller, viewed 4 September 2015, http://www.cntraveller.com/awards/the-gold-list/gold-standard-hotels-2015/viewall

Trip Advisor 2015, ‘Top 25 Hotels – World’, Trip Advisor Australia, viewed 4 September 2015, http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/TravelersChoice-Hotels-g1

Week Nine – Inquiry Activity: Content & Writing Curation

Week Eight – Inquiry Activity: Playfire “First-Look” Review

Playfire says that it is “the ultimate gaming community” and from a first glance they aren’t kidding. Playfire is a comprehensive social media platform that offers users the chance to connect with other gamers in an online community.

As a gamer, when you first hit the website, you instantly feel like you are where you want to be. The homepage look and feel is one that tells you that these people know how to work graphics and games – bringing together imagery from iconic platform games such as Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto.

The website boasts three central features – Play. Track. Chat. – to connect gamers to the games they want to play and the people they want to play with. The track feature, a selling point of the social media platform, allows users to track achievements across consoles and online gaming websites, including the well-known Steam community hub. By linking their Steam account, Playfire users are able to earn Green Man Gaming store credit, and with that credit buy the games they love at discounted prices. One of the major highlights, and one of the features I love most about the website, is that it rewards users for simply doing what they love – playing games.

Playfire also offers expert insight into newly released software and hardware, along with comprehensive game reviews. As an avid gamer, I love reading about what is coming up – and Playfire certainly delivers, with its snappy reviews on a wide range of gaming titles. Their Twitter and Facebook page also go a long way in tying together all of these elements to present an appealing social media platform package.

While there is certainly seem to be a lot to rave about on the Playfire site, only time will tell to see if it is as truly as good as it says it is. Stay tuned!

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Task Reflection

Not unlike media writing, experts suggest that successful reviews focus on highlighting important information (Fallon 2015). In the case of reviews, this often revolves around the central elements or features of the thing being reviews. Additionally, review writing guides suggest that it is important to write only what you know and have experienced yourself (Henry 2012). I am fairly unfamiliar with Playfire as a website, and was hesitant to review the site in any great depth. My solution to this was to take a “first-look” approach to reviewing the website. Stylistically, it is advocated that writers also take time to not only research the thing being reviewed, but incorporate elements of that community within the review piece (Metal 2011). Language in this way plays an important part in catering towards reader needs, while also giving credibility as a writer of a review.

References

Fallon, N 2015, ‘Writing a good performance review: Honesty and guidance are key,’ Business News Daily, viewed 31 August, http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5760-write-good-performance-review.html

Henry, A 2012, ‘How to write genuinely useful reviews online,’ Lifehacker, viewed 31 August 2015, http://lifehacker.com/5885607/how-to-write-interesting-and-effective-reviews-online-that-people-will-actually-read

Peterson, E 2001, ‘You got game, but can you write?’ IGN, viewed 31 August 2015, http://au.ign.com/articles/2001/03/22/you-got-game-but-can-you-write

Metal, S 2011, ‘How to write a kick-ass review,’ Mens With Pens: World Class Websites and Copywriting, viewed 31 August 2015, http://menwithpens.ca/how-to-write-a-review/

Week Eight – Inquiry Activity: Playfire “First-Look” Review

Week Seven – Inquiry Activity: Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter

In this week’s inquiry activity, we were asked to review a newsletter by the Crocodile Specialist Group (Volume 23, No. 3: July – September 2004).

What kinds of stories are in the newsletter?

There are many different types of stories within the newsletter. Many of the stories focus on the current issues facing crocodile species across the world, as well as significant findings throughout the community. For instance, in this issue, there are multiple stories which talk about the population problems many crocodile species are facing around the world, as well as mentions of significant findings and crocodile sightings around the world. These stories quote both statistics and further research to support their argument, discussing their wider significance and implications.

How do these target the organisation’s audience?

The stories target the audience by providing information driven insight into the current issues and news stories surrounding the crocodile population (CSG 2004). The stories themselves are demonstrate key characteristics that outline them as examples of classic news stories. Informative, while engaging, the stories present to the audience all the newsworthy information over the last 4 months.

If you were a science journalist, is there anything you may be interested in following up as a story, and why?

As a science journalist, I would definitely be interested in following up one of the stories in the newsletter relating to the discovery of crocodiles on Mannar Island in Sri Lanka (CSG 2004). Where crocodiles have been poorly studied in this region, the story outlines a “spotting” of two crocodiles at a local waterhole known as Kora Kulam. The observers and the writers of this article, could not confirm what species the crocodiles belonged two (CSG 2004). They were unable to take a photograph of animals before they disappeared into the waterhole. The article also suggests that the only comprehensive study of crocodiles in this area was in 1888 by W.J.S Boake (CSG 2004). In 2001, a survey of the area was published which failed to mention crocodiles. The article suggests that it is likely thought that crocodiles were either absent or extinct in this area, until this recent sighting (Santiapillai & de Silva 2001).

What do you think is effective or otherwise about this newsletter?

Shackelford and Griffis (2006) suggests that successful newsletter should both engage readers through great content and great presentation.

I think one of the major strengths of this newsletter is its content. It is obvious that the writers and contributors to this newsletter are knowledgable in this area, and consistently use referencing of sources to back-up claims and support their content. The news stories themselves are informative, critically analysing the issues within the community and in the crocodile populations.

While the newsletter is filled with great content, a major weakness of the publication is its presentation. Shackelford and Griffis (2006) argue that presentation, especially in writing publications such as newsletters, is almost as important as the content itself. Where visual-appeal can entice and encourage readers to keep on reading, the CSG newsletter fails to deliver an equally visually interesting publication, to match the equally interesting news stories (Sunila 2011).

References

Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG), 2004, Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter, viewed 31 August 2015, http://www.iucncsg.org/365_docs/attachments/protarea/CSG%20-2c44bdd5.pdf

Santiapillai, C & de Silva, M, 2001, ‘Status, distribution and conservation of crocodiles in Sri Lanka’, Biological Conservation, vol. 97, p. 305-318.

Shackelford, R & Griffis, K 2006, ‘Creating an Effective Newsletter’, Tech Directions, vol. 65, no. 6, p. 15.

Sunila, J 2011, ‘Pain-Free Newsletter Writing’, Plastic Surgery Practice, vol. 21, no. 7, pp. 20-21.

Week Seven – Inquiry Activity: Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter

Week Six – Inquiry Activity: “O” (A Cirque Du Soleil Production)

“O”: The Timeless Aquatic Production by Cirque Du Soleil Only At Bellagio

This week’s Inquiry activity asked us to select and review a Cirque de Soleil Media Kit. From this review we were to identify key elements of the Press Kit, and reflect on how they might be incorporated into a story.

Opening Quote from Writer/Director – I believe this would be a strong element to incorporate into the story, at is the only quote available from the press kit, and is one from an important source.

Lead Sentence – I think this lead sentence could be used to inspire a strong story lead. The emotive and descriptive language attempts to illustrate the atmospheric nature of the production, which would be important to convey in a story about the performance. It would be useful to incorporate into a story to entice readers and target audiences, much the same way the Press Kit does.

Overview of the Production – Great information that would almost certainly be included in any story piece written on the production. Section outlines insightful information into the show’s title, as well as performance elements and the shows setting.

Details of Awards Won – Great information again that would add to any story written about the production. The information has the potential to give the reader insight into the play from alternative perspectives. Where most readers want to know “Is the performance any good?” – This information gives factual information on the accolades the performance as achieved.

Further Facts – Additional facts, including its opening, how many spectators and number of performances, all of which could be used meaningfully to build a strong story about the production.

Creators & Additional Creative Contributors – I am on the fence about this one, in whether or not it would be useful in writing a story. It would depend on the type of story being written and further information about the individuals listed to ascertain if their inclusion would add value to the story. From a “review” point of view of the production, it is unlikely that this information would be useful.

Show Schedule – I feel this would definitely be useful to include within a story, given that it is likely that those reading are likely to be interested in such performances. It would however, most likely be included towards the end of the piece, as an addition piece of information.

Information to Reserve Tickets – It is unlikely that this information would be useful, unless added as further information at the end of a story.

Ticket Prices & Group Enquiry Contact Information – I think it is unlikely to be useful in writing a story. It may be added though as additional information, depending on the context/target audience of the story.

Information on Cirque Du Soleil – I think this information could definitely be worked into a story about the production. The information gives a broader scope to the performance as part of a wider range of high calibre performance artistry.

Media Contact Information – While it may not be directly incorporated into the story, the contact information available might be a great way to seek further insight.

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Task Reflection

I really enjoy this activity. I couldn’t decide for the longest time which production/press kit I was going to review because they all sounded so good – which I think is the main aim of press kit and media releases in this context. As promotional material for any kind of performance, press kits are inherently designed and written to engage with readers to make them want to see the production.

Lewis (2008) suggests that press kits and media releases are an essential component of properly and effectively advertising events and productions. News/media releases and press/promotional releases are not so different. They both aim to highlight the most important information about the event. The difference lies therein the fact that press releases obviously strive to promote and advertise, where media releases aim to present clear and concise information (Dutch 2012).

The press kit for “O” demonstrates a press release that outlines the newsworthy elements of the production, while creating reader interest. Schwartz (2015) suggests that the use of the above elements is consistent with, and ultimately crucial, to successful press kits.

References

Dutch, A 2012, ‘The Art of a Press Release: How to Write one’, Inventors’ Digest, vol. 28, no. 9, p. 23.

Lewis, J 2008, ‘Writing a successful press release Part One’, Hudson Valley Business Journal, vol. 19, no. 50, p. 9.

Schwartz, M 2015, ‘Include these elements in your media releases’, CoSIDA Digest, p. 41.

Week Six – Inquiry Activity: “O” (A Cirque Du Soleil Production)

Week Five – Inquiry Activity: Article Review

“Find an article that has impact on you because of the sources, speech and reporting, and discuss why it is an example of good journalism or media writing”

I really enjoyed this task. The article which I reviewed appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald online site, called “Government’s poor visibility over gay marriage debate”, written by Annabel Crabb.

I was initially drawn to the article because of its writer, Annabel Crabb, an Australian political journalist and commentator. Positioned as the ABC’s chief online political writer Crabb has a witty, sassy and critical writing style which I really respond to. I am not the most well informed political spectator, I rely heavily on the insight from well-respected journalists such as Crabb.

The article itself is cheekily witty in its review of recent debates in Australian parliament over the issue of gay marriage. As an advocate of gay marriage and marriage equality, I found the article informative and well written. Where there is a dry sense of humour through-out the article, it doesn’t overwhelm the direction and tone of the piece. This is in direct comparison to the article by Dave O’Neil which I reviewed in a previous week, where it was a lot of ‘fluff’ and not a lot of substance. The article is critical, yet balanced; and humorous while being factual.

The comments on the article are what you could expect from a highly debated issue. Haters and supporters viciously argue the merit of the article and sometimes, the merits of the issue itself. Overall, I felt like the article was really well written, easy to read and personable through writing that hinted at opinions without overwhelming the story.

References

Crabb, A 2015, Government’s poor visibility over gay marriage debate, Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, viewed August 17 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/comment/governments-poor-visibility-over-gay-marriage-debate-20150814-giz7uv.html

Week Five – Inquiry Activity: Article Review

Week Four – Inquiry Activity: News Writing and News Releases

In response to this weeks Inquiry activity, I spent some time immersing myself in the text and reviewing the Moodle site to really help guide my understanding of what good news writing is.

Robert Pattinson talks about his new film, The Rover, with Dave O’Neil

To critically analyse this article, I took the major components of ‘Writing News’ from this weeks study guide.

Essential information must come first

The article, while witty and humorous in some respects, fails to deliver the essential information of the story first. Indeed, it could be argued, that the essential information of Robert Pattinson and his new film is almost nowhere to be seen throughout the article. There is very little information regarding the details of the movie or insight into Robert Pattinson’s perspective of the movie; which you would assume the article would be about. Essential information is lacking – and instead the author focused on random details relating to Pattinson’s ex-girlfriend, his present body guard and other actors at the setting of the interview.

The ABC of writing – accuracy, brevity and clarity

The article in many respects also lacks the ABC of writing. Accuracy is seemingly subjective, brevity is strained by the lack of essential information and clarity is reasonably passable in this poorly written article. In terms of writing style, there is a flow to article which I enjoy and respond to – a certain witty moving pace that I can get into. The major issues, at least to me, don’t stem from the writing style but rather from the lack of information masked by attempts to create a punchy and ‘funny’ article.

You are there to report!

This is where the article falls down the most. Rather than choosing to report on Robert Pattinson and the new movie, The Rover, the article focuses on seemingly irrelevant information. The lead intro, for example, doesn’t even mention the movie. The movie title itself doesn’t appear until halfway through the article – and even then, only as a passing comment.

In critically reviewing the article it is hard to make sense of what the author really intended to say or the story he was trying to tell. I do know that Dave O’Neil is a comedian, which brings the whole article into context at least in terms of its writing style. But to me just because he is a comedian, doesn’t mean that he couldn’t have taken a comedic tone in writing about the facts of the film. Instead the article is a mess of random tangents and assumptions.

Drought worst in living memory: AgForce survey

Similarly, in line with the text, the news release demonstrates the clear and impersonal style associated with well written media releases. Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith (2012, pp. 303-304) suggests that good media will; keep it short, use simple language, attribute matters of opinion, write for (but not to) the audience, lead with the news, use passive voice when appropriate and finally, avoid promotionalism. The media release presented by Agforce demonstrates all of the outlined writing qualities, while also providing the all of the basic elements of a media release (pp. 300).

As a response release the example clearly demonstrates a commitment to providing all relevant information pertaining to previous reports, while offering new insight and information. Powerful quotes and local information have been inserted into the release to give perspective of the issue and its direction.

The language used is impersonal, concise and insightful. The tone of the media release gets the message across without asserting an agenda.

References

AgForce Queensland, 2015, Drought worst in living memory: AgForce survey, AgForce Queensland, 20 May 2015, viewed 2 August 2015, www.agforceqld.org.au/index.php?tgtPage=news&id=view,478

O’Neil, D 2014, ‘Robert Pattinson talks about his new film, The Rover, with Dave O’Neil’, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 June 2014, viewed 2 August 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/robert-pattinson-talks-about-his-new-film-the-rover-with-dave-oneil-20140619-zs99j.html

Whitaker, WR, Ramsey, JE, & Smith, RD 2012, Mediawriting : print, broadcast, and public relations, Routledge, New York.

Week Four – Inquiry Activity: News Writing and News Releases